Monday, June 25, 2012

Tips for Recognizing Asthma in Cats

Most of us know someone with asthma. A friend, family or neighbor may suffer from it, or we may be cursed with asthma ourselves. But most of us never think that our cats may have asthma. The truth is, cats can and do suffer from asthma, but because they can't tell us, most of them suffer through it, never really getting the treatment they need.

So what is asthma? Basically, asthma is a serious lung condition associated with airway obstruction caused by a sudden narrowing of the bronchial tubes. It's known as many things when referring to cats, such as Feline Allergic Asthma, Feline Lower Airway Disease, Feline Allergic Bronchitis, or Feline Eosinophilic Disease. All of these things are the same thing: asthma. There are certain signs that may indicate that your cat has asthma. If you notice any of the following, you should talk to your veterinarian at the earliest possible opportunity.

Increased Breath Rate: Cats suffering from asthma may be prone to episodes of increased respiratory rate. If you notice your cat breathing faster than normal every once in a while, and its not connected to increased physical activity, you may have a cat with asthma.

Trouble Breathing: Not all cats suffering from asthma will have an increased breath rate. Some of them will simply seem to have to work harder once in a while in order to breathe. Again, if this is not because of physical exertion, asthma may be a prime suspect.

Loud Breathing: Cats are quiet breathers. Listen to a cat sometimes, and if they're not purring or whining about something, you probably can't hear them unless you listen very carefully. So a cat with a distinct wheeze or other high-pitched sound that is emitted while breathing should certainly see a qualified veterinarian.

Coughing: Cats almost never cough. To someone who has never own a cat but is familiar with dogs, this may come as a surprise. Dogs cough all the time. Cats do not. If your cat is coughing, even occasionally, you may want to take him or her to the vet. Asthma is a possible cause of coughing in cats, so take coughing seriously.

All these symptoms can be caused by the spasmodic constriction of the bronchial tubes and increased secretions from the bronchial tree. In other words: asthma. Asthma in cats is as serious as asthma in humans, so take any signs of asthma seriously and see a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vomiting in Cats

Most cats vomit at some point. Vomitting is a reflex act, so your cat isn't doing it on purpose. There is always a reason for vomitting in cats, though sometimes this reason is hard to determine. The are many different causes of vomitting. If you cat vomits only infrequently, then your cat is probably fine. If, however, the vomitting persists, you will want to call your veterinarian.

Vomitting is a symptom that is often caused by a gastrointestinal disorder. However, vomitting may also indicate a secondary disease from a different system entirely. For example, cats with diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, or some infectious diseases may vomit. This can make determining the cause of vomitting a challenge even for experienced veterinarians.

When Vomitting in Cats Requires Medical Attention

Problematic vomitting is probably best defined as vomitting which is acute (comes on quickly) and results in more than three instances in 24 hours. Alternatively, vomitting that lasts for longer than a week is also problematic. If your cat vomits once and then consumes a meal with no further problem, the issue has resolved itself and probably does not require medical attention. If the vomitting continues after eating or your cat is lethargic or has a fever, see a veterinarian immediately.

There are other signs that your cat should see a veterinarian. Some of these include:
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy (reluctance to move)
  • Diarrhea (more than three occurrences in 24 hours)
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the vomit
If any of these signs are present, take your cat to the vet immediately. Your vet may wish to perform a variety of tests to determine the cause of vomitting, including blood tests, urinalysis, fecal examination, and perhaps X-rays.

Prevention and Treatment of Vomitting in Felines

You can't prevent all vomitting. It's going to happen, whether it's from a mild illness of a hairball. But you can take steps to keep reduce the number of times your cat might vomit. Keep him indoors and eliminate all toxic plants and other materials from your home. Also switch to a hairball control formula when purchasing cat food. This might help your cat avoid all those hairballs.

When your cat does vomit (provided it is not a hairball), withhold food and water for three hours. After this time, offer small amounts of water. After a couple more hours, offer bland foods, preferably a cat food designed for this purpose, such as Iams Recovery Diet. Slowly reintroduce regular cat food over a two day period. If your cat resumes vomitting at any point, or your cat develops other symptoms, contact your veterinarian. Your vet may wish to begin IV fluids or administer medications to control the vomitting until the cause has been determined.

Vomitting is cats is usually benign and a result of hairballs or other simple problems. However, if you are at all worried about your cat's health, take him immediately to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tips for Fighting Fleas in Cats

Fleas are annoying, but they're also a health risk. They can carry disease and make you and your cat horribly uncomfortable once an full-blown infestation is under way. There are two things you can do: prevent the infestation in the first place, or deal with it once it occurs.

The best way to fight fleas is to prevent them in the first place. Flea prevention should be a concern all year, not simply in the spring or summer. You never know when the weather will get just warm enough to help those little fleas along.

When you begin a program to prevent fleas, treat all your pets. Every cat, every dog, and any other furred companions you might have. Treating only one or two pets won't really help. There are many products on the market today, including flea collars, that can help your pets stay flea free. Talk to your veterinarian about other ways to prevent fleas in your cats.

However, sometimes those little fleas will hitch a ride on your cats despite your best efforts. Fleas cause the most common skin disease in cats, known as flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas can cause small red bumps (called hives) on the skin. These become itchy and sometimes even painful to the touch. Your cat may become so uncomfortable that he scratches or bites himself raw, leaving the skin open to infections.

This is obviously not a good thing for your feline companions, so you'll have to get rid of the fleas immediately. If you see even a single flea or any sign of flea dirt, assume that you have thousands of fleas, larva, and eggs in and around your house. You'll need to treat pets and all living areas, inside and out, at the same time to stop the infestation.

Get yourself a good flea shampoo for your pets and use it according to the package directions. You'll also want to add flea collars to all your pets to help repel the insects. But this alone won't really help. The fleas are already in your house, just waiting for another opportunity to make everyone miserable. If you can afford it, hire a licensed pest control company to take care of the fleas.

You can also tackle the problem yourself, if you're willing. Start by vacuuming every nook and cranny of your home. Pay special attention to any cracks and corners. Then vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum before disposing of the contents in a sealed garbage bag. There are some very good sprays and foggers on the market for dealing with the fleas you miss. Follow the manufacturer's directions when using these products. You'll probably have to leave the house for several hours while these products start working. Take your pets with you when you do so no one is exposed to toxic chemicals unnecessarily.

Treatment and prevention of fleas should be based on your pets and their lifestyles. Cats that go outside or come into contact with outside animals are at higher risk and may need more prevention or more aggressive treatment. Speak to your vet about risk factors. Don't put this off or you might find yourself with thousands of unexpected guests.